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January 22, 2018

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Secretariat of the Convention on the
Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (UNEP/CMS)


Animal migration across national borders occurs all over the world. It refers to the periodic movements of animals from one region to another, often in a cyclical and predictable manner. Migratory species range from antelopes, elephants and gorillas to birds, whales and turtles. Even bats and delicate insects, like the monarch butterly, can cover enormous distances.

Migratory animals rely on various habitats in their life cycles. But they also play a key role in the ecosystems they live in. They pollinate plants and distribute seeds, provide food for other animals or are necessary predators. They are also a source of livelihood for the local communities they travel through, for example for hunters and fishers. Migratory animals have become major attractions in ecotourism and have great cultural significance in many societies as well. Human activity is threatening migratory species, for example through climate change, unsustainable hunting or fishing practices, as well as the destruction of animal habitats.

Adopted in 1979, the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) addresses such threats. Every single country in the world provides shelter, food or breeding ground for migratory animals. As of 1 June 2012, 117 countries are Parties to the Convention and, in addition, 30 have signed up to specific regional agreements made under the Convention to conserve migratory species and their habitats. The Convention also promotes economic ctivities involving the sustainable use of migratory species, including ecotourism and sustainable harvesting.

The CMS Secretariat supports the Convention’s work. It was set up in Bonn in 1984. It develops and promotes agreements, services meetings, and supports and supervises research and conservation projects. It also cooperates with governments and other organisations. The CMS Secretariat is administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and provides Secretariat services to the UNEP Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS).

The Secretariats of two other multilateral environmental agreements are co-located with the CMS Secretariat in Bonn under the same UNEP administration: for the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) and of Populations of European Bats (EUROBATS).

(Source: Common Information Unit of the UN Organizations in Bonn)

UN Campus
Platz der Vereinten Nationen 1
53113 Bonn

Tel.: +49 228 - 81 52 40 1

e-mail address:


Last update: July 31, 2013



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